One in three adults admitted to missing a loan repayment over the last five years.
And thousands have missed repayments on their mortgages and credit cards. The most common reason given for missing a mortgage payment was a reduction in household income, with others citing a general rise in the cost of living.
Four out of 10 admitted missing at least one mortgage payment since 2012, according to research conducted by firm Empathy, for mortgage lender Pepper Money.
A total of 1,500 people were surveyed, with more detailed questions asked of the 500 of those who said they missed loan repayments.
The survey was one of the first to ask people if they had missed payments. The Central Bank produces mortgage arrears figures, showing one in 10 behind on their payments, but there are no readily available statistics on missed payments for other loans.
Nine out of 10 of those who missed repayments said they had got behind on at least one credit card bill, according to the Empathy research.
Half of those said the main reason for this was that it had slipped their mind. Nearly half of those who missed a payment said they had found themselves unexpectedly unemployed in the past, the research showed.
The Pepper-commissioned research said missed repayments were impacting on consumers' ability to access finance.
The majority of those who had missed a financial payment believed having a mark on their credit history, or a previous credit rejection, would make it more difficult for them to access loans in the future.
The inability to access finance is impacting on people's lives and causing distress, Pepper Money said.
One-third said their accommodation options had been limited as a result of their previous missed payment.
Those people said they were living in cramped accommodation, were unable to buy a first home, and could not trade up.
A quarter said they were being held back from purchasing a car or going on holiday, while a similar number said the inability to access finance was negatively affecting their health.
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